The National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister’s Office, Singapore has awarded seven projects under the national Marine Science Research and Development Programme (MSRDP) in areas including the resilience of coral reefs, ecological engineering of sea walls, and developing tropical model marine organisms for experimental marine science.
MSRDP, which is managed by the National University of Singapore (NUS), aims to strengthen Singapore’s long-term marine science research capabilities. It focuses on four major themes of Marine Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Environment Impact and Monitoring, Coastal Ecological Engineering, as well as an enabling technology theme of Marine Technology and Platforms.
Since the call for projects under MSRDP was launched in October 2015, thirty white papers were received. An international evaluation panel recommended awards to seven projects based on their quality and relevance to Singapore. The seven projects are listed. See Annex for details.
1. Adaptation and resilience of coral reefs to environmental change in Singapore by Assistant Professor Huang Danwei from NUS’ Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science;
2. Understanding the viral composition of phytoplankton blooms in Singapore coastal waters by Associate Professor Federico Lauro from the Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Asian School of the Environment and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering;
3. Genomic and metabolomic approach to the discovery of functional metabolites from marine actinomycetes by Dr Tan Lik Tong from the National Institute of Education;
4. Physical and biogeochemical effects of sediment transport on coral reefs by Associate Professor Nathalie Goodkin from NTU’s Asian School of the Environment and Earth Observatory of Singapore;
5. Ecologically engineering Singapore’s seawalls to enhance biodiversity by Assistant Professor Peter Todd from NUS’ Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science;
6. Tropical model marine organisms for experimental marine science by Dr Serena Teo, Senior Research Fellow from NUS’ Tropical Marine Science Institute and St. John's Island National Marine Laboratory; and
7. A cross-discipline user-focused data management platform for data collected under MSRDP by Dr Sin Tsai Min from NUS’ Tropical Marine Science Institute.
Mr George Loh, Director (Programmes) of NRF said, “Marine science research holds immense potential for Singapore as our good geographical location has provided us with a rich marine biodiversity that can yield novel discoveries. New knowledge discovered from research can be translated into effective solutions to ensure environmental sustainability of our coastal area, in the face of stresses posed by heavy shipping, urbanisation and climate change. We are confident that the seven newly-awarded research projects will strengthen Singapore’s marine science research capabilities to address our national needs in the future.”
MSRDP Programme Director Professor Peter Ng, who is also Head of NUS’ Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, said, “Singapore is an island nation surrounded by the sea and a good part of our future will depend on it in one way or another. It is imperative to have a strong marine science anchor to ensure we are ready for the many challenges to come. The seven selected programs have gone through a very rigorous screening by local and international scientists and are an excellent kick-off for this important program. The MSRDP is unusual in that it is more than a clearing house for good science – it will also assist and help integrate these projects, co-ordinate with other marine science programs at the national level, as well as ensure the public understands why this needs to be done.”
The seven projects were announced today by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, and Chairman of NRF, at the official opening of the St. John’s Island National Marine Laboratory as a National Research Infrastructure (NRI) under NRF’s NRI scheme. The laboratory will serve as a national resource and focal point for marine science expertise, supporting marine research that meets Singapore’s strategic national needs for the future.